Lawrence Torcello

Tue, 2014-04-01 00:46Graham Readfearn
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University Criticizes Conservative Media For Misrepresentations That Sparked Hate Mail From Climate Science Deniers

A university has criticized conservative media for a serious misrepresentation of one of its academics that sparked a torrent of abuse from climate science deniers.

As revealed by DeSmogBlog, Rochester Institute of Technology assistant professor Lawrence Torcello received hundreds of e-mails after conservative media incorrectly claimed he had called for climate skeptics to be jailed.

Torcello wrote an article for The Conversation website arguing there was “good reason to consider” that “the funding of climate denial” was morally and criminally negligent.

But conservative media, including FoxNation, The Drudge Report, Breitbart and The Daily Caller, incorrectly claimed that Torcello had either called for contrarian scientists to be jailed or for Americans who did not accept the evidence for human-caused climate change to be imprisoned. Climate skeptic blogger Anthony Watts also encouraged readers to complain to the university.

In a followup statement, the university said:

The search for truth is the animating force of a university, and it behooves those who support open and respectful discussion of controversial issues to get the facts right. Recently the views expressed by a member of our community, Professor Lawrence Torcello, have been misrepresented by some in the media. The misrepresentation follows a pattern similar to other incidents of misrepresentation involving academics that work on topics related to climate change.

Tue, 2014-03-25 19:07Graham Readfearn
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Exclusive: Climate Change Philosopher A Target Of Abusive Hate Campaign

DIE you maggot,” reads one of the hundreds of emails from climate science deniers that have dropped into philosopher Lawrence Torcello’s inbox in recent days.

“Fortunately, your kind will be marched to the wall with all the other leftist detritus,” says another.

Others accuse Torcello, an assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Department of Philosophy in the west of New York State, of being a fascist, Stalinist and a Nazi.

The catalyst for the bilious outpouring was an article Torcello had written for The Conversation website arguing there was “good reason to consider” that “the funding of climate denial” was morally and criminally negligent.

I knew there would be debate in the comment section, which I was welcoming,” Torcello told me, adding he also knew the “usual climate denialist blogs” wouldn’t like it too much.

But I didn’t expect the wide level of exposure that the misrepresentations would get in the press and I didn’t expect the intense storm of hate mail and Twitter harassment the article experienced.”

At one point, he says he picked up his phone to be told that soon he would be “paid a visit”. One email told Torcello — in customary all-caps angriness — that he was a “FAGGOT” and that global warming was “A LIE STRAIGHT FROM THE JEWS”.

“When I include phone calls and twitter harassment in addition to the emails I’ve received, then somewhere above 700 items of correspondence seems like a good estimate,” says Torcello.

“I did stop keeping count after the first few days of constant bombardment, but over a week later mail is still coming.”

Sat, 2014-03-15 06:00Guest
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Is Organised Climate Science Denial Criminally Negligent?

By Lawrence Torcello, Rochester Institute of Technology. This article was originally published on The Conversation and is republished with permission.

The importance of clearly communicating science to the public should not be underestimated.

Accurately understanding our natural environment and sharing that information can be a matter of life or death.

When it comes to global warming, much of the public remains in denial about a set of facts that the majority of scientists clearly agree on. With such high stakes, an organised campaign funding misinformation ought to be considered criminally negligent.

The earthquake that rocked L'Aquila Italy in 2009 provides an interesting case study of botched communication. This natural disaster left more than 300 people dead and nearly 66,000 people homeless. In a strange turn of events six Italian scientists and a local defence minister were subsequently sentenced to six years in prison.

The ruling is popularly thought to have convicted scientists for failing to predict an earthquake. On the contrary, as risk assessment expert David Ropeik pointed out, the trial was actually about the failure of scientists to clearly communicate risks to the public. The convicted parties were accused of providing “inexact, incomplete and contradictory information”. As one citizen stated:

We all know that the earthquake could not be predicted, and that evacuation was not an option. All we wanted was clearer information on risks in order to make our choices.

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